This section is from the book "Moose-Hunting Salmon-Fishing And Other Sketches Of Sport Being The Record Of Personal Experiences Of Hunting Wild Game In Canada", by T. R. Pattillo. Also available from Amazon: Moose-Hunting, Salmon-Fishing and Other Sketches of Sport: Being the Record of Personal Experiences of Hunting Wild Game in Canada.
" Why in thunder don't you fire ? Are you going to let him go again ? " asked R.
" I can't shoot that moose, helpless as he is with those dogs."
"Confound such sentimentalism! What did we come away out here for, if you weren't going to shoot when a chance like this came to you?"
" Well, here, you take the gun and fire, if you like: I won't at that one."
So the rifle was passed to him, at which the moose jumped. Rover seized him again. R. levelled and fired, when, instead of the moose being down, our poor Rover lay there bleeding, with the bullet through his head.
" That's bad gravy! " said R. " A valuable the most valuable dog we had dead, and to be paid for! If you had fired at that fellow when you ought to, this would not have happened," R. said rather crossly. "How am I to tell Mr. D. his dog is dead ? I would rather have lost ten dollars than it should have happened."
When the dog fell, the moose, released, started off at a hurricane pace, Ready in close pursuit. Presently we heard Ready bark, and away in the distance could we see the moose at bay, the dog at his heels. A moose is bound to stop when the dog bites him on the gambol muscles, and will turn round and face him, which he was then doing. R. still had the gun, while my weapon was his axe. His first lesson had made him cautious, so as he approached and came within 60 yards of him, I was sure he was ours, and so was R. He would have been had she been in my hands, for I had learned that firing a blank range or any thing within 100 yards, you must aim below the spot you wish to hit; but this he did not know, and I was too far from him to explain, so he ranged, he told me, for the upper part of his head as he stood side to him, calculating to shoot him in the eye, but he overshot him, and off he started again.
" Hang the moose ! What's the matter with him ? "
" The moose is all right: you had better say, ' Hang me 1 what's the matter with me?'"
" Here, take your old gun: she's no good!"
" You would be nearer the truth to say you are no good! That moose is not for us, or we should have had him before this."
He has started again, Beady still in company. " Where are the rest of our dogs ? "
In the excitement of the chase the thought of them had escaped us, but here they are coming panting. They must have been on that other track. In our rush after the moose when Hover and Beady gave the first alarm, another track was noticed crossing the one we were on at right angles, going directly south towards home. We stopped an instant as we came to it, and decided to follow it going out, but the two dogs that had just come to us must have been following it. However, we could give them no more thought then. Beady and the moose were away and out of sight. Occasionally away in the distance could be heard his yelp.
"What is that?" said E. "It sounded like a gun."
" Yes ! it was a gun too. There must be some others out as well as ourselves."
So we continued travelling, hoping Beady would come back. Had he been with us, we would have gone no further, but we feared to return without him, so, trudging along, not very happy at the turn of affairs, of which your humble servant got the principal blame, we came out into a beaten log-road which B. knew, and suggested we go to Freeman's Camp, which was alongside of it, one-third of a mile further on, have our lunch there, and get some warm drink.
So we took off our snow-shoes to relieve our feet, and away we scaled as fresh as when we left home.
" Halloa t what's that along there in the road?"
" Why, it looks like a moose." " Never a moose in the world! " "Well, what is it, then?" " By George, it is a moose ! " " See I there's a dog by him I " " Yes ! and it is our Beady. What can it mean ? "
"You must have hit him that last shot, and he ran till he fell here."
Now we are beside him, and while looking to find where he had been struck, saw a man approaching from Freeman's Camp, which was only a few yards in the woods.
" Halloa, neighbour, do you know anything about this moose ? "
" Oh yes," he replied laughing; " that is our moose 1"
" Yes. It may be, but our dog is with him, and we shot at him twice."
"That may be," still laughing at our persistence. "He did not look much like yours as he came trotting down the road, with the dog barking at him. It was the dog that called our attention, as we were eating breakfast, when Mr. Freeman at once took in the situation. 'Hark! that's a dog on a moose, I verily believe !' So he jumped up, seized his gun, and ran to the road just in time to meet him, and shot him down where he lies."
"By George!" said R., "that must have been the shot we heard, and no doubt it was."
So we were invited in to take dinner, and wait till Mr. F. came for his. As I stood over his dead body, I could not help thinking that he deserved a better fate. He was a large one between 600 and 600 lbs.
When Mr. F. came, he offered us the carcase ; but as we really had only a small claim, we refused to take but the half, which he kindly sent to us to Port Joli the following day. After resting here in these comfortable camp quarters until two o'clock, we started to return, calculating to put the dogs again on that southern track already referred to. Poor old Rover! When we came back to his body, we stood for a time feeling badly at the tragical end of such a fine fellow. We dug a hole in the crust and snow, and laid him away to rest. As we resumed the march, R. exclaimed
" I'll catch 'Hail, Columbia!' when I tell Mr. D. Do you know that Rover was his splendid bird dog, and it is hard to duplicate him?"
We consoled ourselves with the fact that it was accidentally done, and therefore no one was to blame, and concluded, as Mr. D. was a reasonable man, he would accept the explanation, and with the fact that I could get him a fine pup to replace his loss, the matter would be smoothed over. The walk homeward was more hopeful, the track was at last reached, and we started to follow it, keeping the dogs in the background. We could see as we went along that they had been on it for half a mile before leaving it to return. By its appearance we concluded it was made the previous afternoon, and we would probably find the maker of it yarded near the swales about the lake. Nevertheless, we proceeded cautiously, scrutinizing closely our surroundings, when we came to an immense track, apparently made within an hour or so, and going directly west. As we stopped to examine, Ready, who was by us alone, the others having forged ahead on the other track, snuffed the air, looking westward, and started on the jump, our eyes, of course following him. Scarcely had he gone 75 yards when he spoke fiercely, by which we knew he was up to him. So off I rushed, with the determination to have a shot if one could be got. There he stood oh! what a monster 1 A fellow such as we read about but seldom see. Yes, there he stood facing Beady, so I made another rush to get still closer, when the toe of one of the snow-shoes caught a limb or root or something that sent me head over heels, and left me floundering to get up on to my feet again. By the time my feet or shoes were extricated, nothing was to be seen of dog or moose; but the wood was resounding with funny noises, yet not in my praise.
" Where in the name of sense are you, P. ? Why didn't you shoot that moose? Why didn't you fire ? "
"Let echo answer € Why ?' Had you seen me going at him headlong, you would have concluded that, instead of shooting him I intended capturing him by main force and the nidness."
" Oh, if I had only had the gun, I know I could have dropped him here within 30 feet of me. See his tracks where he went. He excited me so, I actually threw the axe at him as he passed, which just escaped our having to bury another dog. I could hear you screeching and laughing, and thought it very funny you would let such a rare chance at such a moose escape purposely, unless you had taken another moralizing fit. You won't catch me hunting again with such a tender-hearted chap as you! Why did you come ? You must have known that the dogs would stop them, and they would have to be shot then or not at all!"
Thus was I harangued by R. When I related my ridiculous toss-over, and the frantic efforts to relieve myself, the ludicrous part was so prominent he did laugh a little; but all this did not save the moose. He had escaped, and the only satisfaction left was to look at the immense tracks, and sigh over "what might have been." Ready has left him and returned, so we will see what is in store for us with the fellow somewhere between here and home.